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Get Lost In Maps

Maps are a hot commodity in Nome. It takes a little bit of work to get the information you need about a given trail, address, or mountain peak. You can try with Google Maps, but the information is pretty thin, and sometimes it will place Nome dozens of miles from where it is. That’s one of the problems you can’t have with maps. If you search for a business, it might give you the right street (which may be enough) but you may be sent on a wild goose chase.

Pretty close.

For the country surrounding Nome, Google Maps is again very spotty. You have a very capability system in the Alaska Statewide Digital Mapping Initiative. You can access GIS information from dozens of agencies and organizations with a map that’s strictly Alaska. Click on “SDMI topo” in the right corner for a great topo mashup.  It also has improved satellite imagery from remote parts of the state.

I have not yet invested in a GPS device, but a lot of your problems are solved with an inexpensive handheld GPS unit. I don’t know anything about that though. Let’s pretend they don’t exist.

The gold standard of maps is the paper versions of USGS topographic maps dating to 1950 and 1980. The paper copies cost you money, but the USGS offers high quality pdf versions of the maps online for free. These are the best, bar none.

They will occasionally misname a peak or valley, but if you’re looking for raw topographic data and the nuts and bolts to guide you on a wilderness trip, look no further.

They’re even full of fun historical nuggets like references to old mining camps, defunct railroads, and old trails.

There you go: a quick and dirty guide to getting around Nome. Have fun!